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MATTHEW 5:13-16 | “PLAYING OUR POSITION”

“PLAYING OUR POSITION”

MATTHEW 5:13-16

FEBRUARY 5, 2017

 

 

 

TODAY IS SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, OF COURSE, AND JUST TO GET THINGS STARTED, I’D LIKE TO TAKE SOMETHING OF AN INFORMAL POLL WITH YOU.

 

I’M NOT GOING TO ASK YOU WHICH TEAM YOU’RE SUPPORTING, I DON’T WANT THE SERVICE TO BREAK OUT INTO FISTICUFFS HERE IN THE AISLES.

 

BUT, BY A SHOW OF HANDS, HOW MANY OF YOU EVER PLAYED FOOTBALL?  HOW ABOUT ANOTHER SPORT – BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, SOCCER, HOCKEY, WRESTLING, ANY SPORT?

 

HOW MANY OF YOU WERE CHEERLEADERS?  (I KNOW CHEERLEADING IS NOW CONSIDERED A SPORT, AND PROBABLY ALWAYS SHOULD HAVE BEEN, WHAT WITH THE ATHLETICISM IT TAKES.)

 

HOW MANY OF YOU PLAYED IN THE BAND?  SANG IN THE SCHOOL CHOIR?  WERE ON THE DEBATE TEAM?  THE NEWSPAPER OR YEARBOOK STAFF?

 

IN OTHER WORDS, HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE EVER BEEN PART OF SOMETHING, A TEAM, A GROUP, A BUSINESS, ANYTHING THAT TOOK WORKING TOGETHER?

 

THAT TOOK DOING YOUR PART, WHILE OTHERS WERE DOING THEIRS, AND WHERE BOTH WERE ESSENTIAL TO SUCCESS?

 

IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD IT A HUNDRED TIMES ALREADY IN THE LEAD UP TO THE BIG GAME, YOU’LL HEAR IT A HUNDRED MORE BEFORE THE DAY IS DONE, OF HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT THE PLAYERS PLAY THEIR POSITION.

 

ONE OF THE FIRST PICTURES I SAW ON FACEBOOK AFTER THE PLAYOFF GAMES DECIDED THAT IT WOULD BE THE PATRIOTS VERSUS THE FALCONS, WAS OF A PATRIOT’S FAN IN A SWEATSHIRT THAT SIMPLY READ:

 

“DO YOUR JOB” – THE QUOTE ATTRIBUTED TO COACH BELICHICK.

 

I CAN STILL REMEMBER WHEN BLOWING A BLOCKING ASSIGNMENT, MISSING A RUNNING LANE, OR FAILING TO RUN THE RIGHT PASS ROUTE, MY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH, COACH WOODRUFF WOULD GRAB ME BY THE FACEMASK…

 

SHAKE MY HEAD FROM SIDE TO SIDE, AND SAY:

 

“SCHENK, YOU LOOK LIKE AN ELEPHANT DOING THE CHA-CHA IN A PHONEBOOTH!”

 

I DIDN’T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THAT MEANT, BUT HIS TONE WAS UNMISTAKABLE, AND I THINK HE WANTED ME TO STOP DANCING AROUND, AND DO MY JOB!  PLAY MY POSITION!

 

HE KNEW… I KNEW… COACH BELICHICK KNOWS… EVERY PLAYER ON THAT FIELD KNOWS… HOW IMPORTANT IT IS FOR EACH PLAYER TO PLAY HIS POSITION, TO DO HIS JOB, FOR THEIR TEAM TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

 

AND SO, DID JESUS.  JESUS UNDERSTOOD THAT AS BELIEVERS, AS CHRISTIANS, WE HAVE A POSITION TO PLAY, A ROLE TO PLAY, IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND FOR THE KINGDOM TO SUCCEED, IN US, IN THE CHURCH, AND IN THE WORLD, WE NEED TO DO OUR PART.

 

WE ARE PARTNER’S IN CHRIST’S SERVICE.

 

INTERESTINGLY, WHEN JESUS ASSIGNS US OUR POSITIONS, HE USES SOMETHING OF OPPOSITES, TO MAKE HIS POINT.

 

IN ONE BREATH, JESUS TELLS US – WE ARE THE “SALT OF THE EARTH;” AND IN THE NEXT BREATH, HE TELLS US – WE ARE THE “LIGHT OF THE WORLD.”

 

NOW, I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT THOSE SOUND LIKE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS; VERY DIFFERENT ASSIGNMENTS; VERY DIFFERENT POSITIONS.

 

I THINK WHEN WE USE THE TERM “SALT OF THE EARTH” IN REFERRING TO SOMEONE, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS SOLID; DOWN-TO-EARTH; GROUNDED; SOMEONE WHO IS DECENT, CAN BE COUNTED UPON, WHO PUTS IN THE HARD WORK; WHOSE OUT THERE IN THE TRENCHES.

 

IN FOOTBALL PARLANCE, THESE WOULD BE THE GUARDS AND TACKLES; THE CENTER; THE OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE LINEMEN; THE LINEBACKERS, MAYBE.

 

THE GUYS IN THE TRENCHES, WHO DO MOST OF THE PHYSICAL WORK, WHO ARE GRINDING IT OUT, NOSE TO NOSE, HAND IN THE DIRT, BUT WHO RARELY GET MUCH CREDIT FOR THE TEAM’S SUCCESS.

 

THEN THERE’S THE LIGHT; THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD; THOSE WHO SHINE BRIGHTLY; WHO GIVE LIGHT TO THE WORLD; WHO ARE MORE VISIBLE; MORE NOTICEABLE;

 

AND WHO, BECAUSE OF THAT, OFTEN GET MORE OF THE ATTENTION; MORE CREDIT FOR WINNING; MORE NOTORIETY AND FAME.

 

AGAIN, IN FOOTBALL PARLANCE, THESE WOULD BE THE QUARTERBACKS, THE RUNNING BACKS, THE RECEIVERS; AND DEFENSIVELY, THE CORNERBACKS AND SAFETIES.

 

THE FACT IS, BOTH THE LINEMEN AND THE “SKILLED POSITIONS” AS THEY CALL THEM, HAVE TALENT; JUST DIFFERENT KINDS OF TALENT; DIFFERENT ABILITIES; BUT ALL OF THEM ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE TEAM’S SUCCESS.

 

IT’S TOO SIMPLISTIC, OF COURSE, TO SAY THAT THERE ARE ONLY TWO PERSONALITY TYPES; TWO TYPES OF CHRISTIANS; SALT AND LIGHT;

 

AND, I’M NOT SURE IF JESUS IS TELLING US THAT SOME OF US ARE SALT AND OTHERS OF US ARE LIGHT; OR IF EACH OF US IS TO BE BOTH SALT AND LIGHT;

 

BUT EITHER WAY, JESUS SEEMS TO BE SAYING: WE SHOULD PLAY OUR POSITION; WE SHOULD DO OUR JOB.

 

SALT, JESUS SAYS, IS MEANT TO ENHANCE THE FLAVOR OF FOOD, AND LIFE;

IT IS MEANT TO MAKE THAT WHICH IS GOOD, BETTER; AND ANY OF YOU ON A SALT FREE DIET, KNOW WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT!

 

BUT IF SALT HAS LOST ITS TASTE; IF IT’S LOST ITS ABILITY TO DO WHAT IT’S MEANT TO DO, IT’S NO LONGER GOOD FOR ANYTHING, BUT IS THROWN OUT AND TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT.

 

(I THINK I SHOULD STOP HERE TO MENTION THAT JESUS, AND THOSE LIVING IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN HIS TIME, KNEW LITTLE OF SNOW AND COLD; BUT AS MANY OF YOU, AND MANY OF OUR FRIENDS TO THE NORTH CAN ATTEST:

 

EVEN SALT THAT IS THROWN OUT, AND TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT, ESPECIALLY IN SNOW AND ICE, STILL HAS A JOB TO DO! – AND IT DOES IT WELL!)

 

SO, SALT, WHETHER MAKING FOR BETTER TASTING FOOD, OR SURER FOOTING IN SNOWY CONDITIONS, IS DOING ITS JOB; PLAYING ITS POSITION; FULFILLING ITS ROLE.

 

AS FOR LIGHT, JESUS REMINDS US, NO ONE LIGHTS A LAMP, AND PUTS IT UNDER A BUSHEL BASKET; BUT INSTEAD, ON A LAMPSTAND, SO THAT IT MAY GIVE LIGHT TO THE WHOLE HOUSE.

 

IN OUR CASE, AS LIGHTS TO THE WORLD, JESUS SAYS, OUR ROLE IS TO LET OUR LIGHT SO SHINE, THAT OTHERS NOT ONLY SEE OUR GOOD WORKS, BUT SEE BEYOND US; SEE GOD, SEE CHRIST, WHOM WE SERVE;

 

FOR WHOM, AND THROUGH WHOM, AND BY WHOM, WE ARE DOING THESE GOOD WORKS;

SO AS, TO HELP OTHERS, TO BUILD UP THE CHURCH, AND TO DEMONSTRATE CHRIST’S KINGDOM IN THE WORLD.

 

IT’S WHY MILLIONS OF CHILDREN OVER THE YEARS HAVE SUNG WITH SUCH GUSTO: “THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE, I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE; LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE.”

 

IN THE NEWSPAPER CARTOON, SHOE, A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, THERE WAS THIS:

 

IN THE FIRST PANEL, ONE OF THE BIRD CHARACTERS SAYS: “THE TWEETVILLE BUGLER HAS CHALLENGED US TO A CHARITY SOFTBALL GAME.”

 

IN THE SECOND PANEL, THE SAME BIRD CHARACTER ASKS ANOTHER: “WHAT POSITION ARE YOU BEST AT?”

 

IN THE THIRD PANEL, THE OTHER BIRD CHARACTER IS PUSHED BACK IN HIS CHAIR, HANDS BEHIND HIS HEAD, FEET LAID UP ON HIS DESK, LYING BACK, AND SAYS: “YOU’RE LOOKING AT IT.”

 

SO, HERE’S THE POINT: AS CHRISTIANS, AS BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST, AS SERVANTS IN GOD’S KINGDOM;

 

OUR BEST POSITION IS NEVER – LYING BACK WITH OUR FEET UP ON THE DESK; NEVER UN-SALTED SALT; NEVER HIDING OUR LIGHT UNDER A BUSHEL BASKET.

 

AGAIN, IT’S WHY, WHEN ASKED, IN THE SONG, THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE:

 

HIDE IT UNDER A BUSHEL? NO! THE CHILDREN ANSWER SO EMPHATICALLY: I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE.”

 

SO, WHICH ARE YOU?  SALT OR LIGHT?  OR BOTH?

GUARD OR QUARTERBACK?  TACKLE OR RUNNING BACK?

IN THE TRENCHES OR ON THE LAMP STAND?

 

WHAT’S YOUR BEST POSITION?  WHERE CAN YOU DO YOUR BEST JOB?  WHAT’S THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR CHRIST’S KINGDOM, WHERE YOU ARE?

 

REMEMBER, WE ALL HAVE DIFFERENT TALENTS, SKILLS, GIFTS, FOR WORKING IN GOD’S KINGDOM.

 

NOW YOU MAY THINK ALL OF THIS HAS BEEN A LEAD UP TO ASKING YOU TO FIND A PLACE TO WORK IN THE CHURCH.  FINDING A PLACE TO VOLUNTEER.  PICKING A COMMITTEE ON WHICH TO SERVE.

 

DOING A JOB IN CHURCH.

NOW, IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED, WHO AM I TO STOP YOU?!

 

THE TRUTH IS, IF YOU ARE HERE THIS MORNING, AND AREN’T PLUGGED INTO THE LIFE AND WORK OF THIS CHURCH IN SOME WAY, I HOPE YOU WILL FIND SOMETHING TO DO, HERE OR ELSEWHERE.

 

I HOPE YOU WILL FIND YOUR PASSION, USE YOUR GIFTS, AND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE, IN SUCH A WAY AS TO HELP OTHERS, AND FURTHER CHRIST’S KINGDOM.

 

IF YOU NEED HELP DOING THAT, FINDING OUT WHAT YOUR GIFT IS, OR FIGURING OUT HOW YOU MIGHT HELP, WE CAN HELP YOU DO THAT.

 

BUT HERE’S WHAT I REALLY WANT ALL OF US TO DO TODAY:

 

I WANT US TO THINK ABOUT THE ROLES WE ARE ALREADY PLAYING; THE POSITIONS WE ALREADY HAVE; THE JOBS WE DO; AND I WANT US TO PLAY OUR POSITION!

 

I WANT US TO: FILL OUR ASSIGNMENT.  I WANT US TO: WORK TOGETHER.

 

ARE YOU A HUSBAND OR WIFE – FULFILL YOUR ROLE.

 

ARE YOU A MOTHER OR FATHER – PLAY YOUR POSITION TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.

 

WHAT’S YOUR WORK?  WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?  HOW DO YOU PAY THE BILLS?  WHATEVER IT IS – DO YOUR JOB!

 

ARE YOU A VOLUNTEER, A COMMUNITY ORGANIZER, A BOARD MEMBER…?

 

WHETHER YOU’RE OUT THERE WORKING IN THE TRENCHES, OR IN THE SPOTLIGHT – USE THE GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN YOU TO DO GOOD.

 

ARE YOU A FRIEND TO OTHERS, A CONFIDANT, SOMEONE THEY CAN COUNT ON, SOMEONE ON WHOSE SHOULDER THEY CAN CRY, SOMEONE WHOSE ADVICE THEY TRUST?

 

PRAY FOR THEM; HELP THEM WHERE YOU CAN; ADVISE THEM WISELY; GIVE THEM A SHOULDER TO CRY ON; BE A GOOD FRIEND THROUGH THICK AND THIN.

 

A HUNDRED TIMES OR MORE THIS WEEK, TODAY, WE’RE GOING TO HEAR SOMEONE SAY: PLAYERS NEED TO PLAY THEIR POSITIONS; STAY HOME; PLAY ASSIGNMENT FOOTBALL; DO THEIR JOB;

 

THE SAME GOES FOR US – FOR SALT AND LIGHT; IN THE TRENCHES AND IN THE SPOTLIGHT; BEHIND THE SCENES AND OUT FRONT; IN PRIVATE AND IN PUBLIC.

 

LET’S DO OUR JOBS; LET’S BE HONORABLE PEOPLE;

 

LET’S BE WORTHY OF OUR CALLING AS PARTNERS IN CHRIST’S SERVICE;

 

AND FULFILL THE ROLES TO WHICH HE HAS CALLED US, AND FOR WHICH HIS SPIRIT HAS GIFTED US, NOT JUST IN CHURCH, BUT IN LIFE.

 

LET’S WORK TOGETHER FOR THE COMMON GOOD; IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ALL PEOPLE; AS TEAM PLAYERS, TOGETHER, IN CHRIST’S KINGDOM AND IN THE WORLD.

 

I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE GAME THIS EVENING– ENJOY YOUR LIFE!

 

DO WHAT YOU’VE BEEN CALLED TO DO BY THE LOVE OF CHRIST, THE GRACE OF GOD, AND THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

 

NOW LET’S GO OUT THERE AND WIN!  WIN ONE FOR CHRIST!  GO TEAM GO!!

 

 

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Pastor Daniel writes and posts a weekly newsletter that keeps members and friends of the congregation up-to-date. His earlier newsletters are also online, so if you missed something, check those past editions.

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